Alabama planning open data portal update

Alabama Chief Information Officer Brunson White discusses how his staff is working to build on the early success of the state's open data portal.

Since first setting up an open data portal in 2009, anyone can get a look at Alabama’s government spending, down to state employee salaries. Now, state Chief Information Officer Brunson White said he’s working to revamp the data supporting that system.

“One of the things that we’ve been working on is making sure the data that system accesses is the best data possible and is the most complete data available,” White told StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference earlier this month. “That’s a pretty big lift.”

White said his staff is currently updating how the data is sorted, enabling the state to provide certain spending statistics with “commodity codes” to identify specific goods the state is buying.

“We’ll know how much we’re spending on apples from prison to prison to prison or an example of how much we spend on the various components that go into making highways,” White said.

But White stressed that a key part of the process of improving the state’s open data efforts is building the right kind of culture about information sharing among state workers.

“One of the big things, too, we have to do is get people to think about data differently,” White said. “You have a build a governance model around that, so we’re excited about helping the groups of agencies come up with governance models to share data that needs to be shared.”

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